Understanding Digital Accessibility

A video is playing on a laptop, with sound. The viewer can't hear what is said. The Medical Model says the impairment is the problem. The Social Model says the lack of captions is the problem.On this page, you can learn:

Why Digital Accessibility is important

An estimated one in five people living in the UK have a disability, including around eight million people of working age. Many of our students and staff will be included in these numbers.

The Social Model of Disability proposes that it’s the barriers and attitudes society places, both purposefully and inadvertently, which disables those unable to work around them. Please ensure the content and activities you create are accessible.


The Equalities Act 2010 requires us to make reasonable adjustments to support learners who have an accessibility requirement. More recent regulations now require websites, intranets and mobile apps for public sector organisations to meet accessibility standards. These legal requirements also cover institutions overseen/funded by public sector bodies, such as Universities.

It may feel like a daunting task ensuring that the materials you create are accessible, but most of the standards are good practice, easily achieved and create an improved experience for everyone. Tools such as MS Office have accessibility checkers built into them. Blackboard Ally and its Course Accessibility Report give you practical advice around improving materials you’ve uploaded into Blackboard.

Useful Links


If a student just told you they have an impairment

  1. Ask them what you can do to help them.
  2. Check they have talked to disability services.
  3. Contact us if you need advice on digital education accessibility.

If you are a student with an impairment

  1. Talk to disability services.
  2. Look for tips in the relevant digital accessibility requirements page.
  3. Contact us if you notice inaccessible content in your course.

If you are staff with an impairment

  1. See staff support options.
  2. Talk to your line manager about reasonable adjustments.
  3. Look for tips in the relevant digital accessibility requirements page.
  4. Find peer support.

Accessibility requirements

Learn more about different types of accessibility requirements to help yourself and others.